Climate change is going to cost the USA billions of dollars because of extreme weather, health problems, and more - and New York City wants fossil fuel companies to help pay for it. In 2012 New York's streets and subways flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and rising sea levels have strained ocean infrastructure around the city.
"This city is acting, and we want other cities and states to act", said the mayor of one of the world's leading financial centers.
The lawsuit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell seeks billions of dollars in damages for the city's past and future resiliency measures to protect citizens from the effects of climate change that it says the companies contributed to.
With this divestment decision and lawsuit, New York City is placing itself at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
- "This lawsuit is factually and legally meritless, and will do nothing to address the serious issue of climate change", Chevron spokesperson Braden Reddall wrote in an email.
New York City may be the largest city but it is far from the first to announce divestments from fossil fuels.
Daren Beaudo, ConocoPhillips' director of media relations and crisis communications, said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.
"I think we're at the point where we need to get over the conversation of who believes and who doesn't, and move to a conversation about solutions", Gerard said, referring to climate change. The Big Apple is in the midst of big change, and we couldn't be more excited about it. The California counties of Marin, Santa Cruz and San Mateo, along with the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach, past year filed a lawsuit concerning the impacts of climate change against dozens of energy operators, including ExxonMobil. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions. The city also announced it will divest from companies owning fossil fuel reserves.
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New York City is not the first in the USA to launch legal action against oil majors.
In response to NYC's lawsuit, ExxonMobil spokesman Scott Silvestri says the company has "made good faith attempts to address climate change", AP reports.
In addition to the lawsuit, New York City also announced on Wednesday its intention to divest some $5 billion in its pension funds from oil and gas companies.
The lawsuit followed the city's announcement that it plans to divest $US5 billion ($AU6.25 billion) in its pension funds from fossil fuel companies.
Stringer admitted the divestment will be "complex" and will take some time but said the city's pension funds could promote sustainability while also protecting the retirement of teachers, police officers and other city workers. New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is investigating Exxon over this alleged deception.
The press office for New York's city hall did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment. Saying these companies put profits ahead of principles, the 67-page filing makes frequent comparisons between the fossil fuel industry of the 2000s and the tobacco industry of the 1990s, which employed "disinformation campaigns" to encourage use of its products.
Such David versus Goliath bravery becomes easier now that an entity as rich and powerful as New York City has joined the fight.
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